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Interview: Sophia Lillis stars in Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase

It actress plays the classic teen detective and solves a new mystery.

March 12, 2019

kids articles

By: Lynn Barker

17-year-old flame-haired actress Sophia Lillis played Beverly, the only galpal to a bunch of terrified boys in the super frightening thriller movie It based on the novel by Stephen King. She has finished It: Chapter Two and has another movie thriller coming up but now you can catch her in Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase in the title role of the teen detective. It’s a fun update movie based on the original novels first hitting stores way back in 1930.

Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase Trailer 


Sophia was born in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. She started her acting career at the age of seven, when her stepfather encouraged her to take acting classes at the famous Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in Manhattan. She eventually signed a deal with an agent, started out in short films but later landed her breakthrough role in the horror film It.

Kidzworld caught Sophia between roles and asked all about her transition into feisty, outspoken, analytical and take-no-prisoners Nancy who is a skateboarding fool!  

Kidzworld: Was that actually you on the skateboard and did you have to learn how to use it?

  • Sophia: That was mostly a stunt double but I did a few things. I was on the board. I stood up on the board. I’m not a big skateboarder. I learned for the movie and I think I did okay considering I had only a few weeks. I did fall off.  

Sophia on set with the skateboardSophia on set with the skateboardCourtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Kidzworld: Did you read any of the Nancy Drew novels or the ones based in “River Heights”?

  • Sophia: I read a few books for the film, yes. I’m on the fifth one, starting to read that but I didn’t read them before the project, no. I’d heard about Nancy Drew but I never really read the books until I heard about the movie.  

Kidzworld: The Derek Barnes character is a cyber-bully in the movie. Have you ever been the target of a bully?

  • Sophia: Not really. I guess, in New York (where she is from), I never really experienced any bullying like that. I feel like I’ve been pretty lucky. I know teens have suffered from that.

Kidzworld: Would you do what Nancy did to get even with a bully? (She basically dyes him blue along with the Boy’s locker room walls!)

  • Sophia: She did go pretty far and ended up breaking quite a few laws. No, I’m not really a law-breaker but I think standing up to someone like that is important.

Nancy and pals prank a bullyNancy and pals prank a bullyCourtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Kidzworld: How are you like Nancy or how different?  

  • Sophia: I wish I was like her. She’s very headstrong. She does a lot of things because she loves doing it. She does it without (taking in) any criticism from anybody. She really doesn’t care what other people think. I think that’s pretty admirable. I’m kind of a do whatever I want kind of person too but I do care with other people think though. I started acting because I love it so I do it. In acting you get a lot of rejection and it is hard to move on from that but you just kind of do. That’s the price of being an actress.

Kidzworld: Are you observant and analytical like Nancy is…figuring out a mystery?

  • Sophia: (Laughs) Uh, no. I won’t be solving any mysteries any time soon.

Nancy and her dad are closeNancy and her dad are closeCourtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Kidzworld: Do you think she is brave or foolish or both?

  • Sophia: A little bit of both. I think you have to be kind of foolish to be brave.

Kidzworld: Good point. There is a ghost story at the core of this film. Do you believe in the supernatural or do you have a logical explanation for everything?

  • Sophia: I try to not think about that. I try to go with the flow and not think about it if it’s really got no answer. I kind of believe in the supernatural. If it exists then that is cool. I think ghosts may exist. If they do then that is interesting.

Nancy and Helen in the haunted houseNancy and Helen in the haunted houseCourtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Kidzworld: You’ve been in scary movies, now this ghost mystery. What really scares you personally?

  • Sophia: Oooooo. Driving terrifies me. I don’t own a car. I’m trying to get my driving license. I got my permit but when you are in Brooklyn, New York you don’t really have to drive. You can just take the subway. But driving itself really terrifies me. That’s not me driving in the movie but I do drive like that (Nancy has trouble shifting gears in a small car).

Kidzworld: You shot this around Atlanta?

  • Sophia: Yeah, east of Atlanta, Georgia.

Nancy meets with Flora about her hauntingNancy meets with Flora about her hauntingCourtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Kidzworld: What did the young cast do to bond there?  Did you get to have dinner or anything to get to know each other or did they just throw you all on set the first day?

  • Sophia: We had a week beforehand to do some rehearsals. There were a few times where my friends on the movie and I would all go to the gym together and we did a Zumba class and a spinning class and both times, I fully embarrassed myself in front of everybody. I can’t dance, no rhythm whatsoever. In that spinning class I was the only one to come out with a flesh wound.

Kidzworld: Yikes! Tell us something funny or weird that happened on set.

  • Sophia: The owner of the haunted house we used was born on Halloween so they go all out on Halloween in their house. In the bathroom, they had to stuff all their Halloween decorations in there so we could shoot and they had this humungous automaton of this butler that speaks to you when you walk by. He actually says ‘You look very nice today’ in this very eerie tone. It was really weird walking in there and have this scary butler saying ‘You look really nice today’ while you are trying to use the bathroom.

Sophia at the movie's premiereSophia at the movie's premiereCourtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Kidzworld: I’ll bet!  Did you get to keep anything from set?

  • Sophia: I really wanted to keep the bright orange jacket she picks up trash in. I thought that was the best jacket ever. I tried to steal it multiple times but I kept getting caught. I didn’t get to keep anything.. I just wanted to get that jacket.

Kidzworld: Do you keep in touch with any of the It cast?

  • Sophia: I do! We all talk to each other and text everybody. We text each other quite a bit.

Sophia as Beverly in "It"Sophia as Beverly in "It"Courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Kidzworld: You finished It: Chapter 2. What’s next for you?

Sophia: Yeah, “It Two” is coming out this year and I’ve got another horror film coming out soon, Gretel and Hansel and I may shoot this film called Uncle Frank which is going to be fun. It’s a family drama movie. It’s not scary.

See Sophia Lillis in Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase in theaters March 15th!

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Let Us Hear From You!

Have you read any Nancy Drew books or seen previous movies or TV shows about her? Could you figure out a mystery? Do you think you could be brave if it mattered? Did you see Sophia Lillis in the movie It? Tell your fellow Kidzworld visitors with a comment or write all about it on your profile page!